What is an interview under caution?

If the police suspect you of committing a criminal offence, or being involved in a criminal offence, you will be required to attend the police station to be interviewed under caution.

By law, you must be cautioned before any questions can be posed to you, otherwise anything you say during the interview answers cannot then be used as evidence in court.

What is a police caution?

When you are cautioned, a police officer must state a phrase to you, prior to your interview commencing:

‘You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence’.

What you then proceed to say – or indeed not to say – during a police interview is one of the key factors in determining the outcome of the police’s investigation into a case, then deciding what action – if any – may be taken against you as a result.

This is not to say that just because you are being questioned you should answer those questions, equally, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t answer them either. The question of whether you should or should not answer questions from a police officer is a very important one and one where expert legal advice becomes so important.

The decision about what to do and what to say can make all the difference to how the case turns out, both initially and also later if it does go to court.

A police caution does not count as a criminal conviction, but it can be used as evidence of your character if you are required attend court in conjunction with another offence in the future.

A police caution can show on both standard and enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks.

Your right to legal advice during a police interview

By law, you are entitled to legal representation and free and independent legal advice at a police interview under caution if:

  • You have been arrested
  • You have been informed you are going to be arrested
  • You have been informed that the police wish to interview you on a voluntary basis

Legal representation protects your basic legal rights throughout the police interview process. If you choose to have a specialist criminal defence solicitor accompanying you to an police interview under caution, this is not an admission of guilt or involvement in the criminal offence you are suspected of committing or being involved in.

Expert legal representation at an interview may ensure you don’t do or say anything that can be misinterpreted or twisted by the police whilst they are questioning you or at a later date.

We can arrange for you to be represented by a specialist criminal defence solicitor whatever the offence and wherever the police interview is due to be held.

Once the police are satisfied that they have questioned you sufficiently, you will either be:

  • Released from the police station without charge, having been told  that no further action will be taken against you
  • Released on police bail – with or without conditions – and required to return to the police station at a fixed date and time
  • Released under investigation (RUI) which is a similar situation to when you have been released on bail but in these circumstances there is no specified date when you have to return to the police station and there are in fact no bailconditions that can be placed on you
  • Charged with the criminal offence you have been questioned regarding
    If you are released on police bail or charged with committing or being involved in the criminal offence, it is extremely important that you seek expert legal representation in order to ensure the best possible outcome for you.

What is a voluntary police interview?

Also known as voluntary attendance or a ‘Caution plus three’, a voluntary police interview usually takes place at a police station, although it can also take take place at your place of work or even at your home.

If you are invited to a voluntary interview, you are not under arrest. The interview will be recorded and it will take place under a police caution, so it can be used as evidence in court if required.

A voluntary police interview is an increasingly popular means of interviewing an individual suspected of committing a criminal offence, as the police do not have to hold you in a custody suite and they are not obliged to provide you with legal representation.

If you attend a voluntary interview, you have the right to request and receive independent legal advice to protect your rights. You should seek expert legal representation as soon as you are able to do so as, despite the fact the interview is voluntary, it is no less serious than a police interview conducted under caution.

During a voluntary interview you are free to leave the police station at any time, unless you are then arrested by the police.

People often wrongly assume that because it’s voluntary and not always at a police station, a voluntary interview is somehow not as serious as if you’d been arrested.

At Lawtons our team of highly experienced legal representatives are available 24 hours a day and 7 seven days each week throughout the year to represent you. We can help guide you through the police interview process, arranging the interview with the police, at a time and date to suit you.  

Get in touch with us for expert legal advice and assistance, whether at a police interview under caution, a voluntary interview or at court. We’ll work with you to ensure the best possible outcome in your individual case.